Consider Yourself from Anotherís Perspective...
So, you waited for a good pocket, paid for the flop, paid attention to how everybody else before you bet, and with some generalizations established the range of probable outcomes. Does this sound a bit like science? To some extent poker at this level is. However, before moving on into the world of pokerís hard science, i.e. statistics, there is one more core online poker skill to grasp; and this one requires you to assess and define your playing habits with nothing short of absolute and brutal honesty.
Knowing how people usually play a hand, or how a loose-aggressive style of play will differ from, say, a loose-passive or tight aggressive, allows you to take advantage of the fact that other players will be looking for the same online poker tells as you. You will find that the number of people playing poker at this level is far far fewer than the half-in half-out game attention of many passive players.
Bluffing and subterfuge is not always productive or worth the effort in online games because so many people are not really giving all their focus. However, there are occasions where subterfuge can be used to confuse or devastate those players who think they know whatís going on. To do it well requires you to think of playing styles not as rigid instructions, but as so many volumes of a single book called good poker.
Take as objective a look as possible on your playing style. Imagine you are another player, and from that perspective deconstruct your manner of play. Statistics are sometimes useful for this, or as my friend always says, ďMath doesnít lie.Ē Become constantly aware of what impression your actions are giving. If another player did what you are doing, what would you think about their hand? With a solid grasp on these questions you can begin to take actions that suggest to the other attentive players you have a weak or strong hand, depending what you want them to believe. If you play regularly with friends, solicit their input on how you play. What sort of player do they consider you to be, and why? Does it coincide with your own assessment?
For example, you could try to convince the other players you hold an ace or face by raising pre flop in an early position. These tactics can work well with good or drawing hands. Say, for example, you hold two jacks in your pocket and the gremlin in the flop serves you a K, Q, and 8. This is a good hand, but in no way is it certain to win. Be a bit aggressive, however, and some players, especially the tighties, will worry you have a matching king or queen or both, and they might just fold.
It cannot be emphasized more to use bluffing and subterfuge in moderation, and mainly when it is strategically imperative to do so. In general, you want to play a straightforward game. First of all, and as it has been elsewhere remarked, the vast majority of online poker players are of a loose-and passive type. The vast majority of them pay too little attention to the table to discern all but the most obvious tactics and bluffs. Moreover, loose-passive players are defined in part as willing to play almost any hand, and as assuming opponents are bluffing most of the time. In other words, many people just call every hand out of habit. Use bluffs against super tight and tight aggressives mainly.
Once you are comfortable with the general concepts of table image and hand strength, be sure to reference information on pokerís statistical aspects. It is easier than it sounds, and it will really prove to be the icing on your game.
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